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  • Sophia Kamveris, MS, RD

Apple Cider Vinegar

A patient of mine gave me a book that was written by a farmer from Vermont in the 1950’s. It touted the benefits of apple cider vinegar; proposing that its properties boosted the immune systems of cattle. Fifty+ year later, this tart elixir continues to be in the news; promoting health boosting properties that include controlling blood sugars, helping with weight loss, and fighting germs and bacteria.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is made from the fermented juice of crushed apples. Since it comes from apples, it contains the same nutrients as the fruit, such as vitamins B1, B2, and B6, folic acid, and vitamin C.

So, is there really a science backing the benefits of apple cider vinegar? Yes and no. What I found was like all vinegars, ACV is high in acetic acid. According to a study published in American Society for Microbiology (February 2014), an international team of researchers reported that acetic acid effectively kills mycobacteria. They proposed that acetic acid may be useful as a disinfectant for sterilizing medical equipment or disinfecting cultures or clinical specimens, that includes the drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria. Hmm. Good for cleaning.

Like apples, ACV is a good source of the soluble fiber, pectin, which has been shown to lower cholesterol and blood sugars. Okay, I buy that it can help in a heart healthy diet.

How does it help with weight loss? All I could discern is that if you replace oil with vinegar (ex. in a salad dressing recipe), then this can cut out a chunk of calories that can lead to weight loss. There’s nothing else going on at a metabolic level. Sort of reminds me of the old grapefruit diet that was supposed to alter your metabolism.

I did find one study posted in Diabetes Care (January 2004), that found drinking apple cider vinegar before a high-carbohydrate meal improves insulin sensitivity. This in turn, delays the rise in blood sugar levels in people who are insulin resistant or have Type 2 diabetes. It may possess physiological effects similar to the medication, acarbose, by suppressing disaccharidase (sugar) activity. Essentially, it reduces the rate of digestion of complex carbohydrates Yes, that’s a lot of science!

Vinegar is thought to have antibacterial properties that can help fight the infection behind a sore throat. The acidity decreases the pH of tissue, which helps prevent bacteria from growing on its surface.

A popular homeopathic remedy for GERD (reflux disease) is actually making an apple cider vinegar and water tonic. The belief is that the acetic acid acts as a buffer in the stomach. I don’t recommend doing this without you physician’s okay. Never drink straight ACV! It can damage the mucosal lining of your throat and esophagus. Always dilute in water.

So, this brings me to my own personal experiences with ACV in cold season. Whenever I feel a sniffle or cough coming on, I pull out a product I swear by made by Dr Schulze ( His Super Tonic product has habanero pepper, garlic, white onion, ginger root and horseradish root in it. And yes, its base is apple cider vinegar. It works for me, so I am sold on this particular tincture.


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